Status: 11.01.2022 10:28 a.m.
After his controversial re-election, Nicaragua’s President Ortega was sworn in for a fourth term. The US has meanwhile announced further sanctions against Ortega supporters.
Controversial President Daniel Ortega was sworn in on Monday for his fourth direct term as President of Nicaragua, his wife Rosario Murillo for her second as Vice-President. The presidents of Cuba and Venezuela as well as envoys from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Syria took part in the inauguration of the head of state sanctioned by the West.
The election on November 7, 2021 had been described as a farce internationally after seven opposing candidates Ortega had been imprisoned in the previous months.
USA are imposing sanctions
The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on what was literally the “Ortega Murillo regime” on the day Ortega was sworn in. Affected are the defense minister and five senior members of the military as well as the telecom and mining sectors. US punitive measures have already been taken against dozens of other government officials. “Since April 2018, the Ortega Murillo regime has cracked down on political opposition and public demonstrations, resulting in more than 300 deaths, 2,000 injuries and the imprisonment of hundreds of political and civil actors,” said the Treasury Department. “More than 100,000 Nicaraguans have fled the country since then.” The election in November, which was decided in advance, did not give Ortega a democratic mandate for another term of office.
Before the swearing-in began, the European Union had also announced new sanctions against those around the president for “undermining democracy” and human rights violations. The list includes Ortega’s daughter and a son, both of whom are advisors to the president.
Ortega speaks of “cowardly” measures
In his inaugural address, 76-year-old Ortega called the US measures “cowardly” and “cruel” – not only for Nicaragua, but also for Cuba and Venezuela, which had also been subjected to “brutal sanctions” for years and which he believed must be ended . He charged US President Joe Biden with having “more than 700 political prisoners” in connection with the storming of the Capitol a year ago. “
Opposing candidates arrested
In the months leading up to the November 7 election, the Nicaraguan authorities arrested nearly 40 opposition members, including seven potential presidential candidates. The election took place without independent international observers and most foreign media outlets were denied access to the country. According to the US State Department, Ortega’s administration continues to hold 170 political prisoners. Ortega insists that the detainees are criminals and “terrorists” who are trying to overthrow him with the help of the US. Many of them were involved in the 2018 mass protests against his government.
Rapprochement with China and Russia
While the international community is covering Ortega with disapproval and sanctions, Ortega is trying to improve relations with the economic giants China and Russia. Ortega recognized Beijing as the legal representative of China instead of Taiwan, whereupon Beijing reopened its embassy in the Central American country and donated thousands of doses of vaccines against the coronavirus. Moscow also responded to Ortega’s efforts, supplying the country with wheat, vaccines and even buses for local public transport.
The former Sandinista revolutionary was in power after the overthrow of dictator Anastasio Somoza from 1979 until he was elected in 1990 – first as part of a government junta and then as president. In 2007 he was again head of state and government. A limitation of the presidential term of office was abolished by constitutional reform. Ortega’s wife Rosario Murillo has been Vice President since 2017.